Joy is All Around
Joan Joyce Gastaldo Kelly McManus
In an elephant herd, the strongest, most powerful matriarchs lead the entire pack forward silently instructing the young elephant calves to follow. Matriarchs in the herd make critical decisions, protect in the face of danger, and empathize for those they have lost. We are strengthened by the matriarch of our story, Joan.
Joan Joyce Gastaldo Kelly McManus passed peacefully in her home surrounded by her loving family on November 14th, 2023. Joan was born in the mining town of Aguilar, Colorado to parents Carmela and John Gastaldo. As the daughter of an immigrant parent, she quickly became familiar with a strong work ethic, graciousness in the face of adversity, honoring her Italian heritage, and the importance of family.
In 1964, Joan, or more affectionately known as “Mimi”, began her career as a schoolteacher while pregnant with her daughter. After she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, she completed her master’s degree. 25 years later she went back to school to become a pharmacist. While her hands ached and both of her feet forgot how to carry her to school and back, she relentlessly fought for her own education- carving space for women in the fields of advanced education, literary excellence, and medicine.
Despite battling chronic illness, our grandmother worked 12-hour days on broken ankles, broken knees, and shattered arms. She was not merely an embodiment of physical strength - her strive for educational freedom and dedication to her family represented a model of persistence we grew up striving to follow. Our grandmother embodied an unwavering humility to those who faced adversity, difficulty, and suffering – amid a great degree of suffering herself. Not only was our grandmother humble, creative, and the undeniable thread of steel that held our family strong – our grandmother etched curiosity into each of us and a celebration for living and for creating.
As we mourn her absence today, in the depths of grief, there is a shimmering light that is the joy she left within each and every one of us. Mimi left us with lessons in unconditional love, in selflessness, and sacrifice - so that in the face of life’s challenges and inevitable darkness, we too, will choose love, choose forgiveness, choose to stay strong in the face of pain and choose to feel humble and gracious. While we are crushed in her absence, it is our hope that these lessons will lead all the lives that she touched with loving eyes, with strength in the face of pain, and in unwavering humility.
For Joy is All Around.
Joan is survived by her husband Paul McManus, daughter Carolyn and son-in-law Matthew, her grandchildren Zachary, Madison, and Michaela, and her great grandchildren, Deming, and Ryan Swift. To honor her life, we will be holding a celebration of life at our family home:
Friday December 15th, 2023, at 5:00PM
Swift/McManus family home
9174 Eagle Rock Ave NE, Albuquerque NM, 87122
Book Drive: To honor her love of children and her dedication for every child to succeed we ask that guests please bring a children’s book of choice to be donated to our local schools/libraries.